On his first morning as Dunfermline Athletic manager, he called the players into the training ground, even though it was their day off. He wanted to meet them, but also impose a new set of values, to begin immediately the business of reviving an ailing team. "It might have been worse," he told the squad. "This is my golf day, so I might have been in a bad mood if we'd done a session."
He can be an affable figure, but there were warnings in much of what he said. Jefferies asked if any of the players did not believe the club could avoid relegation, but it was more of a challenge than a query. Dunfermline have been bottom of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League for much of the season, having failed to win a home game so far, and Jefferies has been brought in as Jim McIntyre's successor to eradicate any sense of meek acceptance.
There is time left to redeem this first campaign back in the top flight, with eight matches still to play and only four points separating Dunfermline from Hibernian. Jefferies is convinced that Inverness Caledonian Thistle, a further five points ahead, and St Mirren, who sit 12 points clear of the bottom, can still be drawn into the relegation fight.
At 61, and with a 29-year managerial career behind him, Jefferies will not be unnerved by the task he faces, and there was a sense of him relishing the fight, of being reminded again of the urgency and enthusiasm that is prompted by a return of competitive demands.
"In everybody's eyes we are favourites to go down," Jefferies said. "I'll try and get the best out of the [players], which has been one of my traits. I've told them I will be hard but fair, and sometimes I'll give them a kick up the backside if it's needed. We are running out of games. Everybody is saying it's Hibs and Dunfermline, but if we could get a couple of wins back-to-back and teams above start to falter, they could then face the pressures. Because everyone thinks we're certainties to go down, there is no pressure on us. We are the hunters now, hunting the teams above us."
There were a couple of slips – when he mistakenly referred to Dunfermline as Kilmarnock, and when John Yorkston, the chairman, cracked an awkward joke about developing young players and "hopefully selling them" – but otherwise this was Jefferies at his most assured. Tanned, relaxed, still a broad, forceful figure, he assumed control of the fortunes of the club. He failed to save Bradford City from relegation from the Premier League 11 years ago, but that was a rare moment of failure and the consequence of some erratic decisions made by Geoffrey Richmond, the chairman.
When Kilmarnock embarked on cost-cutting, and Jefferies' squad was diminished, he twice guided the team to safety and it is this notion of him as a resourceful, shrewd and effective manager that prompted Yorkston to bring him to East End Park. "We're hoping Jim'll fix it," the chairman joked, but the humour was a distraction when relegation would reduce Dunfermline's turnover by £1m.
Jefferies has signed a 15-month deal, which will then revert to a rolling contract if he wishes to continue, and the new manager will make two plans for next season: one for being in the Premier League and one for being in the first division. The latter must seem like a concession to Jefferies, but he considers Dunfermline a club with the kind of history and standing in the game that should be protected. He did not need another job for financial reasons, but the old instincts are still sharp, even if this will probably be his final assignment.
"For a while, if anybody had offered me a position I probably would have turned it down," he admitted. "It was nice to have the break and not wake up thinking, 'I have to do this and sort that', but when you've been in football, it's in your blood and you have that competitive edge. I look at this as maybe my last job. I'm not saying I wouldn't like to stay in football in another capacity, as a director of football or chief scout of a big club, to keep actively involved in the game, but in terms of managing a football team, this will be it."
The challenge begins against St Mirren at East End Park on Saturday, a game that has already taken on a profound significance to Jefferies. Apart from seeking an emergency goalkeeper, there is nothing he can do to his squad, so the current players will need to respond to his blend of cajoling and raging at them.
Jefferies' new job also pitches him against his former school class-mate, team-mate and colleague for 23 years, Billy Brown, who is a coach at Easter Road. He dismisses this as a quirk of the game, and will work with McIntyre's assistant, Gerry McCabe, until the end of the season. Mostly, though, this is about Jefferies battling against the odds, and seeking one last expression of his managerial worth.
"Big [Jim] Leishman . . . did he not come in, win three on the bounce and keep them up?" Jefferies said. "Jock Stein did it as well. I wouldn't have taken it [the job] if I didn't think we had a chance."